Naming characters is a constant challenge for authors. I have a bunch of methods I use to find the right name.
I dream my characters and their stories. Many times first names come with the dream. I am sort of a reporter following them around in the dream. When I wake, I write the story as fast as I can.
Max from Vampire King of New York and Noblesse his daughter both had their names already when I dreamt their stories.
⦁ Other Characters.
It’s not uncommon for a character to receive nicknames from other characters. In Vampire Princess of New York, Max names his daughter Noblest, but she doesn’t accept that. Thinking she is damned, she calls herself Noblesse. Her brother David called her Blessie or Bless. Her best friend calls her Noble. The more the reader finds out about a nickname, the more they know about her.
⦁ Other Places when the name doesn’t come right away.
⦁ Phone Books – I love old phone books because you can mix and match.
⦁ Baby Name Books and Sites – I use those especially when I want to know the meaning of the name.
⦁ Cemeteries – Visiting cemeteries especially antique ones will give you access to some wonderful old names. I like to mix and match there as well.
⦁ Scrabble, the board game. When you want a really unique name, toss the letters.
⦁ Friends – While I do not use friend’s names, I sometimes take suggestions especially if I’m looking for names specific to certain countries.
⦁ Outstanding physical or personality trait.
Examples would be Flame for red hair or Smiley for one who is always grinning.
⦁ Named after a great person.
This may be a first name or last name. Noblesse is a Vander Meer and being the princess has to live up to the greatness of her father. In Vampire Princess of New York, she is in charge whenever the king is out of town.
⦁ The name of an actual person in history.
When using a historical figure in a fictional tense, be sure to get your history as accurate as possible. I make it a habit not to use a historical figure if they have heirs in present time. If an heir feels you have defamed their ancestor’s name in anyway, they may sue you for it.
⦁ Characters drawn from people you know. – Take Caution!
Always change the name and even the gender to protect an identity and a friendship. Some people are honored and some will sue you. They may be honored at first and then sue you. It’s hard to decipher what someone would feel if they decide they don’t like the character that has their name.
A friend of mine wanted me to name one of my vampires after him. He wanted just the honor. Unfortunately, I did not get his agreement in writing that it was just an honor, the character in no way portrayed him, and he did not expect any monetary compensation. Shortly before I turned in the final manuscript, he died. Because I didn’t have it in writing, I had to change the name throughout the book before it went through the editing process with my publisher. Otherwise, his heirs could have felt they were due compensation from the book. The character in question did not portray him in any way.
It’s best not to name your characters after real people. Remember your disclaimer that “the names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used ficitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, business establishments, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.”
Before I go, I give you the Name Test. I always Google the first and last name combined. I check at least 10 pages. My intent is not to make someone’s life unhappy because they happened to share the same name as one of my vampires or other supernaturals. I type in First Name, Last Name, City or Town, and Country.
I’m working on a new novel in my second series and recently gave the Name Test to my hero. I was more than a little dismayed to find a young man around the age of my vampire. He is very active in social media and has exactly the same name and lives in the same city in the same country. So I’m changing the last name. I may play Scrabble.
Enjoy naming your characters.
Susan Hanniford Crowley, Amazon Kindle Bestselling Author of Vampire Romance
Vampire Princess of New York is available currently in Kindle by clicking here
Vampire King of New York is in Kindle ebook and Amazon Print here
and at Barnes and Noble Print
Where you can find all her books: https://www.amazon.com/Susan-Hanniford-Crowley/e/B004YXOGXG
Susan’s website: http://www.susanhannifordcrowley.com
Susan’s blog: http://nightsofpassion.wordpress.com
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About the Author: Susan Hanniford Crowley is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the Romance Authors of America, founder of Nights of Passion blog and an Associate Editor with Space and Time magazine. Susan is married and has children and grandchildren. Her passion is the paranormal, and she delights in writing books that readers find “sexy”, “suspenseful”, “a page turner”, “fun”, and “passionate”.